Posts Tagged ‘edinburgh’

the clan gathering: a celebration of scottish culture and history

July 25, 2009


If you’re around Edinburgh this weekend, be sure to attend the Clan Gathering, a two-day festival celebrating the culture and history of Scotland. This year’s Gathering features a slew of various events all over city, including a parade, Scottish country dancing, and the World Highland Games.

I am hoping to check out The Gathering after I get some reading done for my dissertation. In the meantime, I’ll just enjoy the festivities from my kitchen window.


back in edinburgh

June 3, 2009

Sorry for the long absence, I got back from South Korea yesterday. I was hoping to blog while I was in Seoul, but just didn’t have the time.

My research went well, I was able to conduct in-depth fieldwork at my former English Academy. I will post a couple of detailed entries on my time in Seoul once I have more time to critically reflect on my experiences. I’d like to discuss the prevalence of picture taking and the coping mechanisms of the expat community in South Korea.

Just wanted to let you know I’m back in Scotland and will be here until the late summer. More entries to come.

music in edinburgh: yann tiersen at queen’s hall

May 5, 2009

457787464_9b4fed96f7If you’re in Edinburgh this Friday, be sure to check out Yann Tiersen, the composer responsible for the Amelie and Goodbye Lenin! sound tracks — two of my favorite movies. Here are the details:

Date and Time: Friday, May 8th — Doors at 7pm

Venue: The Queen’s Hall 85-89 Clerk St, Edinburgh, EH8 9JG.

Tickets: £15 + £1.50 booking fee + 50p card charge. You can purchase tickets here.

Photo by Flickr user dezeta

interview with a gurkhas grad student

May 1, 2009

One of the great things about being at the University of Edinburgh  is having the opportunity to interact with so many interesting minds. Chandra Sing Gurung is one of those students. A Nepalese with three degrees and two more pending, Chandra has the kind of life story that would be featured on This American Life. It’s epic, moving, and cliché  — but in the best possible way.


Born in a small rural village in Western Nepal, Chandra had always wanted to excel in academics. However, due to poverty and the death of his mother when he was seven years old, he was only able to finish primary school. It was not until he was sixteen-and-a-half years old that he had the opportunity to leave his village and pursue education. Undergoing one of the most difficult and competitive selection processes in the world, Chandra was chosen out of hundreds of thousands of hopeful youth to join the legendary Nepalese Gurkhas soldiers. Joining Gurkhas makes you a hero in the villages,” says Chandra, “From the UK or American perspective, it’s like getting a place for postgraduate studies at Oxford or Harvard. That’s how tough it is to be a Gurkhas.” Chandra was selected for Singapore Gurkhas.

While stationed in Singapore, he took night classes in Business Information Technology at an off-shore campus of the University of Central England in Birmingham in Singapore. Entirely self-funded and self-driven, Chandra was the first Gurkhas in the history of Singapore to receive a bachelor’s degree. “I am a military man,” explains Chandra, ”while you’re with the Gurkhas, education is totally distant from what you do.” Despite the lack of formal encouragement, Chandra continued on with his education. In 2007, he received a Master of Arts in International Relations from Flinders University of South Australia in Singapore. In 2008, he received a Master of Science in Strategic Studies from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. In the Gurkhas, he rose to the rank of Commission Officer (Inspector), the Gurkhas equivalent of an army second lieutenant, “which is given to the ‘best of the best’ among the Gurkhas.” Chandra recently decided to pursue a doctorate in Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh. He is now pursuing a Master of Science in Social Anthropology as a part of his PhD and will be a PhD candidate from September 2009. His research interest is the Gurkhas diaspora, with a focus on the Gurkhas in the United Kingdom.

Chandra was kind enough to let me interview him, so over fanta, green tea, and cookies, we talked about his experiences in Nepal, Singapore, and Edinburgh.

How was the transition from Singapore to Edinburgh?

My transition from Singapore to Edinburgh was fairly smooth. I was in Edinburgh before, so I knew what to expect. However, there were things that surprised me. Coming from Asia, I thought that Westerners were not very serious about their education, so when I came here and went to the library, I saw all my classmates reading and studying all day, I was very surprised. The students at the University of Edinburgh are very hardworking and bright, perhaps the best minds in their field of studies.


What has been your greatest challenge in Edinburgh?

My major challenge was in the first semester. Because my first two masters were in totally different fields, Strategic Studies and International Relations, I lost in terms of disciplinary language when I was attending seminars in Social Anthropology the first semester.

The next challenge was, I wanted to get distinction in my master’s modules, but when I received my first semester’s results, I got distinction in none of the modules – that was a real challenge. In the second semester, I got the rhythm, I am much better now, but my challenge of getting distinction is still going on.

What advice would you give to international students?

When international students leave their own country and they are in UK, I suggest they learn the culture and language of the host country. At the same time, exchange the culture and language of their own with host country as well as with other international students. Take the best thing to their home countries. It doesn’t mean they have to do everything; they can filter the best things and take them to their own countries.

I encourage international student to be more active, rather than passive, so that they will make more friends and student life will be more fun. Participate in as much activities as possible within the University and beyond. For example, I had never done yoga in Asia, although I could have done, but I started doing it here. Currently, I am learning capoeira (Brazilian martial art cum dance) and Scottish Ceilidh is something I love doing now.

The idea here is, participating in activities broadens your stay mentally and physically. With these activities, you will make your life a lot more interesting as a student and at the same time, you learn a lot more. With so much goes on at University of Edinburgh and so many events that take place in Edinburgh, I reckon it is a great opportunity be here in Scotland.


What do you hope to do in the future?

My immediate aim is to complete a PhD and then gain some research experience in the Western world. Thereafter, I would like to return to Nepal where there is a huge brain drain. Most of the intellectuals in Nepal are leaving for greener pasture, probably due to ongoing political conflict. I, however, believe, as the citizen of Nepal, I should return to Nepal and impart the knowledge and skills that I have gained so far, I believe in contributing whatever way I am able to help Nepal. I believe the notion the good use of knowledge is an honour, and sharing is caring. There are many people to whom I can be a great help especially in my motherland.

My strategy is to teach at University in Nepal, and I would also like build a big public library at the heart of Kathmandu. There are university libraries, but, sadly, there is no public library in Nepal even at the beginning of the new millennium. To achieve my goal, if there is an absolute need, I will even go into politics, but that would be my last priority.

Situation changes, so does the strategy, hence, I wouldn’t exactly be able to tell you what I will be doing to fulfill my life long goal of helping people.

What do you think it will be like going back?

Although I lived in Singapore for a long time and am now in Edinburgh, I still have my own relationship with Nepal. There will be challenges since I have been away from Nepal for a long time. However, it’s possible to overcome these challenges. Being in the Gurkhas has made it easier for me to assimilate and adjust to new environments.

People in Nepal may have a different perception of scholars educated in the Western World, but I will see what strategy fits better. I am an optimist, “nothing is impossible, it is only impossible until one finds a solution to make it possible.”

snapshots of edinburgh: route 75

April 26, 2009

Andrew and I just went for a phenomenal bike ride around New Haven and Leith. This was our first time cycling together in Edinburgh and we had a blast exploring the city by bike. The trails by the harbours are especially scenic.


Hurray for cycling!


Western Harbour


Western Harbour

my new inspiration: trials riding in edinburgh

April 23, 2009

Love this video of Scottish street trials rider Danny MacAskill. Plus, parts of it take place at Edinburgh uni, wonder if I’ve seen him around. Enjoy!

cycling in edinburgh

April 10, 2009

152144483_7503b74572_mSeven months after my accident, my boyfriend Andrew and I finally put together my bike! Edinburgh is no Amsterdam, but it has a few good trails around Leith and along the old railroad tracks. Plus, it’s great being to explore Holyrood Park on bike rather than just on foot.

At the moment, Andrew and I are sharing my bike, but he hopes to get second-hand one tomorrow at The Bike Station,”a community project that accepts donated bikes from members of the public and recycles them for use by priority groups of people such as the long term unemployed, those who have been homeless and those with mental health problems. A proportion of renovated bikes are sold to raise funds.”

If you’d like to support a fantastic organization, as well as purchase an inexpensive, refurbished adult bike, visit The Bike Station on Saturdays from 10:30am-4:30pm. Kids bikes are sold from 2:00-4:00pm. Get there early, so you get the first pick.

Happy cycling.

Photo by flickr user psd


Andrew still doesn’t have a bike! 😦 There was a huge line at The Bike Station, so by the time Andrew and his friend got into the store, most of the bikes were gone. He’ll try his luck again soon. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

the science festival

April 6, 2009

I am incredibly busy at the moment, so sorry if my posts are less frequent. Essays are pretty much taking up all my time, but I’m hoping to squeeze in a couple hours at the annual Edinburgh International Science Festival, ” the world’s first and Europe’s largest celebration of science and technology.” The Festival takes place from April 4-18 and features events in venues all over the city. I am hoping to catch these events:

Alternate Anatomical Architectures: Fractal Flesh Chimeras & Extra Ears

1234265754274An extra ear has been surgically constructed onto performance artist Stelarc’s arm. When electronically augmented, the ear will become internet enabled, allowing people in other places to listen to what his ear is hearing. Stelarc’s work explores and extends the concept of the body through human-machine interfaces.

7-8pm — Tuesday, April 14 — The Hub, Napier University

Bodies of the Future

1234266067990What do we want our bodies to look like in the future? How will technology shape our relationship with the physical environment and the multifaceted identities we create? A panel including Stelarc (Brunel University), Martyn Ware (the Illustrious Company), Andrew Shoben (Greyworld), Dr Jonathan Freeman (Goldsmiths, University of London) and Michelle Kasprzak (Scottish Arts Council), will explore the shifting boundaries between the technologically adapted body and the concept of self and the sense of place.

7-8pm — Wednesday, April 15 — The Hub, Napier University

The Richard Dawkin’s talk also looks really interesting, but unfortunately, it’s sold out!

the joyful bewilderment part deux at analogue books

March 24, 2009


If you’re in Edinburgh this weekend, make sure to attend the opening of The Joyful Bewilderment Part Deux at Analogue Books. Here are the details:

7-9pm, Saturday — March 28, 2009

Analogue Books 102 West Bow Edinburgh EH1 2H

Here’s a description of the exhibition by The Joyful Bewilderment:

“The Joyful Bewilderment is an international group exhibition showcasing the outpourings of a group of like minded image-makers. This exhibition can be seen as an expression of these artists compulsion to create. Fundamentally, the artists in the show all share an essential motivation to explore the possibilities of enhancing everyday life by making magic from the mundane.”


“[I]n various ways, the works offer a subconscious social commentary on the uncertainty of the times we are all living in. Specifically, what comes to the fore are common concerns and a positive interest with dipping into the past and championing seemingly long-forgotten notions such as thriftyness and a delight in the ordinary everyday detritus of life in order to counteract the context of a world today brimming with unwanted junk and jumble that has been manufactured for the transitory ‘now’.”

Super excited to check out the show! Thanks for the tip, Common Folk!

[via Mumble and The Joyful Bewilderment]

meadowbank stadium: a treasure of antiques

March 4, 2009

My boyfriend Andrew, my friend Bethany, and I were on London Road on our way to Sainsbury’s when we stumbled upon a sign that said Antiques Fair at Meadowbank Stadium. None of us had ever been to the Stadium, so we decided to check it out. In one of the ground-floor rooms beneath the actual stadium, we found an antique junkie’s paradise: table after table of stained glass, old postcards, funky jewelry, and items you would find stored in you  grandma’s attic. Fortunately, I was able to suppress my urge to buy everything and only purchased about a bag full of goodies for less than £5. I’ll definitely be at the next one.

Here are the details for the next Meadowbank Stadium Antique and Collectors Fair:

Meadowbank Stadium, London Road, Edinburgh, EH7 6AE
Open: 10am – 4.30pm on Sunday, April 5
Admission: £1 (accompanied children free)

To find antiques in other parts of the UK, check out the Antiques-Atlas.


Above are some of the goodies Andrew and I got at the Antiques Fair, all for less than £10.


I got this cool watch for about 50p. It needs a battery, but I’ll probably just wear it as a bracelet.


This postcard was £2. A bit pricey, but the seller said it was postmarked 1902. Not sure if this is actually true, but I’d like to think so.


This is the message that was written on the back.


One of my many nicknames is Panda, so I couldn’t resist buying this double set of cards for a £1.